A new randomized controlled study published on Friday, Feb. 1, in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease confirms that Emotional Ereedom Techniques (EFT) is an effective treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fifty-nine veterans with PTSD participated in the study as part of the Veterans Stress Project.
The veterans were randomly placed in one of two groups. One group received their standard care and six hour-long sessions of EFT. Experienced EFT coaches helped them tap on traumatic events they experienced in combat, in non-combat situations and at other times in their lives. Participants in the second group received standard care and were assigned to a wait list.
The veterans who received EFT found that their psychological distress and PTSD were significantly reduced following their EFT sessions. In fact, 90 percent of the EFT group no longer met the criteria for clinical PTSD compared with only 4 percent of the control group. The wait list group then received EFT as well. When the results of the two groups were combined, 86 percent of the participants improved so significantly that they no longer met the criteria for clinical PTSD. At a six-month follow-up, 80 percent of participants remained below the level for clinical PTSD.
“This study shows that veterans don’t have to suffer with PTSD,” says the study’s lead author, Dawson Church, Ph.D., of the Foundation for Epigenetic Medicine in Santa Rosa, Calif. “Just six sessions of EFT made a tremendous difference. We don’t have to see vets in homeless shelters or prisons, suffering with substance abuse, or facing drug addiction, unemployment and other difficult circumstances.”
It’s estimated that up to a million American military veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam suffer with flashbacks, nightmares, fear, anger, guilt, suicidal thoughts and other debilitating symptoms of PTSD. The costs of caring for these men and women is staggering.
“This study is hugely important," Dr. Church says. “PTSD among veterans is a massive and costly social problem. We’ve shown that EFT is a fast, effective and drug-free way to help veterans get back to society. Their lives aren’t perfect after EFT. They still have their memories, but they are no longer disabling.”
Several other studies confirm that EFT helps reduce and in some cases eliminate PTSD symptoms in veterans. Dr. Church says that efforts are now underway to replicate the results of this study. In the future, he and other researchers plan to evaluate the effectiveness of group EFT sessions for veterans and to further study the biological mechanisms of EFT.
EFT is an innovative technique that involves tapping on certain acupressure points while focusing on traumatic memories or painful emotions. Other studies have shown that EFT reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol and increases production of serotonin and other neurochemicals. These biochemical responses help regulate the autonomic nervous system and create a sense of calm.
Currently, only a few Veterans Administration (VA) facilities offer EFT to veterans with PTSD. Dr. Church hopes that the VA will make EFT more widely available in the near future. Several members of Congress, including Senator Chuck Schumer, have called on the VA to offer EFT to veterans.
Veterans can find out more about how to participate in current or future PTSD studies or locate an EFT practitioner who works with veterans at low or no cost at the Veterans Stress Project website.
Part 2 of this series features an EFT veteran and practitioner who works with veterans with PTSD. In Part 3, I'll introduce you to a veteran who suffered with PTSD for years and says EFT changed his life. Subscribe to my examiner feed at the top of this page (under the headline) to get instant updates when these and other EFT articles are posted.